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As the market for vintage men’s wristwatches booms, tastes are also evolving as collectors look for value.
This Rolex Submariner, a Ref 6538 ‘Big Crown’ c.1956, is the same type of watch worn by James Bond in the film Goldfinger. This one-owner-from-new watch had been consigned for sale at Lockdales in Ipswich on June 13-14 by a retired businessman who had seen the £230,000 bid at the saleroom for an ‘orange numerals’ Submariner in October 2017. The watch has external damage to the glass, but has not been refurbished and is in working condition. Estimated at £10,000-20,000, it sold at £138,000.

In an era where perfect GMT is kept by mobile phones and laptop computers, the 21st century alpha male demands something different from his timekeeper. It is the branded mechanical wristwatch – technology seemingly made obsolete by the onset of the digital age – that has come to encapsulate the coveted masculine attributes of style, status and storytelling.

It is less than three decades since collecting began in earnest but, with enthusiasts across six continents, vintage mechanical wristwatches (and it is important to distinguish them from battery-driven timepieces or pocket watches) now rank among the world’s few universal currencies.

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About Antiques Trade Gazette

Published every week since 1971, Antiques Trade Gazette is affectionately known as ‘the Bible of the antiques trade’. A long tradition of authority, integrity and accuracy, makes it the essential read for everyone who loves antiques. With a subscription to Antiques Trade Gazette, you’ll stay ahead of all the developments in the art and antiques market, plus you’ll enjoy • A comprehensive auction calendar – see when and where every sale will be happening • Exclusive interviews with dealers, giving you the inside track on the trade • Breaking news on key industry developments • Secrets, stories and tips from leading specialists and collectors • Top lots advertised by auctioneers • Previews of the best art and antiques fairs and markets • Special supplements focusing on specific collecting areas

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